The Florida House of Representatives voted in favor of a controversial bill Wednesday to allow teachers to bring guns on campus, as a school safety measure. The move is based on the recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and comes in response to the last year's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people lost their lives.
The Florida lawmakers voted 65-47 in favor of the bill, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported highlighting that five Republicans voted with the Democrats against the legislation. The law is now waiting for the approval of the GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis who would reportedly give it the green light.
The legislation expands the program started last year to impose new restrictions on firearm sales after the Parkland massacre. It is important to mention that the bill is not required and it is up to the schools and districts to join the program.
Interested teachers and staff would need to pass several tests such as drug screening and psychiatric evaluation. The bill also calls for 144 hours of police-style training for the teachers, including 80 hours of specialized firearms instruction and eight hours of mock drill training. The participating schools would also need to conduct a security risk assessment.
Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan of Eustis, who sponsored the bill commented that she saw no better option to protect school children from similar massacres.
Rep. Chuck Brannan, a fellow Republican, also welcomed the legislation saying that it would ''allow the good guy to stop the bad one.'' His Democratic counterpart, Rep. Mike Gottlieb, did not share Brannan's enthusiasm on the topic, stating that it would ''create a police state.''
In Gotlieb's view, the teachers should focus on teaching. Rep. Susan Valdes, also a Democrat, did not support the introduction of more weapons at school as according to her, ''it was not the answer.''
The teachers' unions also opposed the bill saying that weapons at school would place children at risk, increase shootings by mistake and could also lead to unnecessary violence against African-American students.
School boards in Broward, Palm Beach, and Orange counties have already expressed reservations about the bill. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said in a statement that they did not believe ''arming academic staff is the best way to make schools safe.'' Parkland is located in Broward County.
Do you agree or disagree that arming teachers is the best way to keep schools and students safe?